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I need some suggestions on how to deal with a slow running drain in the bathtub

posted 5/22/2009 10:57:46 AM |
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  Wordsofwit

For the past decade there have been women living here with very long hair. Over time the hair that has fallen out has clogged up the drain considerably. There is no clean out access from the backside that is viable. Using a product like Drano is not under consideration due to the weakness of the pipes, some metal and some PVC. The drain plug is built in and is one of those that you pull up with a little knob and rotate 90 degrees to open. The opening it about a quarter of an inch and results in an angle that very few instruments can get into to get past the support about three quarters of an inch below the opening.

Any ideas? Is there something less corrosive than Drano. I have thought about perhaps pouring some form of hair remover down it. Thanks in advance.

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onehornytoad69

May 22 @ 11:14AM  
I would use a "Snake" on it !!! You should be able to get the Drain Plug Out!!!
If Not.... can you get to the "Trap" underneath the tub??
flavorbuster

May 22 @ 11:50AM  
A couple of months ago I used a product called Liquid-Plumr Gel for my kitchen, bathroom sink which have plastic pipes. The instructions call for pouring & letting set for 15 to 20 but I let it set overnight & it worked well. Anyway www.liquidplumr.com is their website so if you think it might help check it out..
LilGriz

May 22 @ 12:10PM  
I know what you are going through, having a few old houses, and in another one. What I ended up doing is taking a wire clothes hanger, cutting it apart, straightening it out, then make a small hook at the end. I placed this down the drain and pulled the excess hair out as I was able to bend the wire to the desired angle needed to get into the drain.

A natural drain cleaner is baking soda and vinegar: pour about 1/2 cup baking soda down the drain, then 1/2 cup vinegar. After 15 minutes, pour in almost boiling water to clear residue. Works great, but be careful if you have used a commercial drain cleaner as there may be some negative chemical reaction.

Good luck...been there, done that..
Dione

May 22 @ 12:37PM  
Previous suggestions are included here. This is going to look as though I'm hijacking your blog, but here's info I know works...

It is usually worth it to try unclogging a drain first with an old-fashioned
plunger; they very often do the trick. If all else fails, you might try an electric plumber’s snake.

Baking Soda Drain Cleaner
If water hasn’t yet backed up in your drain, pour 1 cup of
baking soda followed by 3 cups of boiling water. The boiling
water will change the chemical composition of baking soda, making it more alkaline. Repeat a few times until the drain is clear.

Washing Soda Drain Cleaner
If the water isn’t going down the drain, pour a cup of washing soda
over the drain area and let it set for a while to work its way down to the clog. Once the clog is loosened, use the baking soda method, above. Washing soda is more alkaline than baking soda, with a pH of 11. You never want to use washing soda if a commercial acid drain cleaner has recently been used in the drain, as they will strongly react with each other. You also shouldn’t overuse washing soda if you have PVC pipes, as the caustic nature of washing soda can slowly damage the plastic.

The Bubbling Method Using Vinegar and Baking Soda
Baking soda and vinegar react with each other to cause bubbles and
fizzing. Sometimes the fizzing can unlodge clogs. Follow the baking soda and boiling water formula, above, with 1 cup of vinegar.

Enzyme Drain and Garbage Disposal Maintenance
All natural living enzyme culture drain cleaners will actually eat and break down any organic matter. Using enzyme drain cleaners once a month, such as Bi-O-Kleen’s Bacout, will help not just your drains, but your septic system. They will also significantly reduce odor from garbage disposals. Colonies of enzymes will actually continue to grow and break down organic matter in your drains .

Washing Soda Maintenance
Enzymes don’t work as well on hair clogs, so to keep drains clear that tend to collect hair, such as in the shower and bath. A few times a month pour 1 cup of washing soda followed by a thorough flushing of water.

good luck!
lunanegra

May 22 @ 12:52PM  
Suggest they brush their hair before they shower. Oh- and that's gross,btw.
blondie_779

May 22 @ 1:06PM  

Last house I lived in,I used Caustic Soda. It was an enamelled bath though.

blondie.
Detach

May 22 @ 1:37PM  
To solve your current problem, you are going to have to snake it. For that price though, may as well hire a pro to do it for a few dollars more.

Once it's snaked, Home Depot sells this drain cover that keeps a lot more hair out of your drain. You do have to clean it more often than a regular drain, but it will save you from the slow drain headache from that point on.
Sunshine79

May 22 @ 2:52PM  
You would kick me out after a week.

In the past year, my hair has broken 3 vacuums. It has caused clogs in many a pool filter. My Aunt forces me to wear a rubber on my head (lol) when I swim in her pool.

Just 1 visit to your house and that's all you'd need to know I was there......
asnet

May 22 @ 3:06PM  
Pot after pot of boiling water.
Wordsofwit

May 22 @ 3:09PM  
Thanks, everyone. I think LilGriz and Dione have the best solutions. I'll try those. I don't even know what washing soda is. The other suggestions are not practical.

Suggest they brush their hair before they shower.
That policy has just been implemented. Good catch, why didn't I think of that!
onehornytoad69

May 22 @ 3:18PM  
try this
Wordsofwit

May 22 @ 3:27PM  
That has a very valuable piece of information in it it OHT, thanks.
There are some push-pull tub stoppers that simply unscrew. Try grabbing the body of the stopper (when it is UP) and turning counter-clockwise. I have never seen a tub stopper that wasn't removable from the tub side of the plumbing (i.e. you should never have to tear into the wall to remove a tub stopper). Stoppers need to be removable so a drain "snake" can be pushed down the drain. Therefore it stands to reason that there is an easy way to remove the stopper.
rnj1013

May 22 @ 3:48PM  
Bruce, I deal with industrial plumbing every day so the clogs are a lot worse than long hair (which I have plenty of) and I can tell you....go get a product called SIZZLE. Its like Drano but much more powerful. It wont hurt the pipes no matter what they are or how weak they are. But be warned....wear a mask when using it and make sure there's plenty of ventilation and try to be out of the house after using it for awhile. It will unclog anything. We get it from the plumbing supply place next to our building and I doubt you can find it in any other type of store. I've used it with no problems and always great results. Short of that, you'll have to remove the drain and stick something down there to get out as much hair and crap as you can before being about to break it up. SIZZLE will eat it away almost immediately though.
slohand_47

May 22 @ 5:10PM  
One heavy duty drain cleaner is sulfuric acid. It will NOT hurt PVC. After all, it comes in a plastic bottle. I suspect that might be what's in sizzle. Check the label.
Handle it cautiously with rubber gloves and a mask. Plenty of ventilation. Pour it in the drain and let it sit for about 10 or 15 minutes, and then dump a kettle of boiling water down the drain to flush it out. That always works for me.
With your metal pipe issues....... 5 minutes might be better. Just remember your high school chemistry. You can pour acid into water, but you cannot pour water into (full, strength, undiluted) acid.

Drains, especially kitchen drains, tend to accumulate this black slime that appears to be a living growing thing. One half cup of regular old laundry bleach down the drain every sunday night will keep most drains clear.
Wordsofwit

May 22 @ 5:17PM  
Good tips everybody, thanks.
rnj1013

May 22 @ 5:22PM  
its available through Hercules Chemical Company
Looking4ever

May 22 @ 5:49PM  
Go to a good bike shop and buy a replacement spoke for a road bike. Seriously. You are talking to a woman with a lot of hair. The bent end of the spoke (where it attaches to the hub) can be used like a hook and the spoke is thin and flexible enough to get past that bit of the turn on the drain. They aren't too pricey and it won't hurt. However, do be prepared for what comes up...it won't be pretty.
theSkwirl

May 22 @ 8:43PM  
Actually ours is like that.. if you undo the screws holding the cock in.. and pull that thingy out.. the long dangly bit..then run hot water, it usually will allow whatever is stuck to get out.

I know.. how blond can you be sam but I don't know the proper terms for those bits..
zaralyon

May 22 @ 8:49PM  
I can't help it, I used to have long hair, as in past the butt variety, and it isn't the thinnest head of hair out there by any means. Brushing my hair before showering wouldn't of helped, actually it could be painful, so I personally just kept the shower drain clean, but i could remove the trap in the drain to get to it. Your better off trying Looking4Ever's suggestion, but invest in some rubber gloves as not only does it look nasty it feels nasty too.
rnj1013

May 22 @ 9:16PM  
S-I-Z-Z-L-E Im tellin ya man...I got more hair than all these lovely ladies and it works
StraddleMyNose

May 23 @ 4:51AM  
Yep, I was thinking a "snake" as well...
DarkKnightWalking

May 23 @ 10:09AM  
if you undo the screws holding the cock in.. and pull that thingy out.. the long dangly bit..then run hot water, it usually will allow whatever is stuck to get out.


Sounded rather dirty....


Some drain plugs have to be down, rather than up, to unscrew them. May take a pair of pliers if its never been done.
straightup_9

May 23 @ 10:17AM  
You need access to the trap....which is where the clog is....If you don't have an access point, take the time and create one NOW....and save on future headaches.
Remove the old trap, throw it away, and install a brand new one, you can then look forward to years of trouble free draining.
aftershox

May 23 @ 6:28PM  
There is a really simple cheap looking thing called drain zipper. Around 2 1/2 feet long with plastic barbs on it.. I think they run $2.99 or $3.99.

I pulled several pounds of hair out of my tub drain recently. Really gross.. Yeach.

But the drain ran really well after that.

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I need some suggestions on how to deal with a slow running drain in the bathtub